Read Double Bind: Women on Ambition by Robin Romm Ayana Mathis Molly Ringwald Roxane Gay Online


Even as toweringly successful women from Gloria Steinem to Beyoncé embrace the word "feminism," the word "ambition," for many, remains loaded with ambivalence. Women who are naturally driven and goal-oriented shy away from it. They’re loath to see themselves—or be seen by others—as aggressive or, worst of all, as a bitch. Double Bind could not come at a more urgent time, aEven as toweringly successful women from Gloria Steinem to Beyoncé embrace the word "feminism," the word "ambition," for many, remains loaded with ambivalence. Women who are naturally driven and goal-oriented shy away from it. They’re loath to see themselves—or be seen by others—as aggressive or, worst of all, as a bitch. Double Bind could not come at a more urgent time, a necessary collection that explodes this conflict, examining the concept of female ambition from every angle in essays full of insight, wisdom, humor, and rage.Perceptively identifying a paradox at the very heart of feminism, editor Robin Romm has marshaled a stunning constellation of thinkers to examine their relationships with ambition with candor, intimacy, and wit. Roxane Gay discusses how race informs and feeds her ambition. Theresa Rebeck takes on Hollywood and confronts her own unquenchable thirst to overcome its sexism. Francine Prose considers the origins of the stigma; Nadia Manzoor discusses its cultural weight. Women who work in fields long-dominated by men—from butchery to tech to dogsledding—weigh in on what it takes to crack that ever-present glass ceiling, and the sometimes unexpected costs of shattering it. The eternally complex questions of aspiration and identity can be made even more treacherous at the dawn of motherhood; Allison Barrett Carter attempts leaning in at home, while Sarah Ruhl tries to uphold her feminist vision within motherhood’s infinite daily compromises.Taken together, these essays show women from a range of backgrounds and at all stages of their lives and careers grappling with aspiration, failure, achievement, guilt, and, yes, success. Forthright and empowering, Double Bind breaks a long silence, reclaiming "ambition" from the roster of dirty words at last....

Title : Double Bind: Women on Ambition
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ISBN : 9781631491214
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Double Bind: Women on Ambition Reviews

  • Summer Smith
    2019-06-10 23:49

    Female ambition is an enormous topic and this collection is a wonderful mix of studies on the subject. The collection really hits its stride about midway through and at its best when the essays are thoughtful explorations of ambition, and not personal/life-of-a-writer stories. If so many of these enormously talented women, tasked with writing about ambition, can't bring themselves to admit they have it, we still have a long way to go. I loved Blair Braverman's piece on dogsled racing, Roxane Gay & Cristina Henriquez's thoughts on being both ambitious and women of color. Julie Holland's essay on women's natural hormonal make-up is fascinating, and Elisa Albert is so goddam brilliant, I could read her snarl on any subject. It certainly made me ponder my own ambition (not to mention my mother's...mothers are a central theme in nearly all of the essays), and not thinking of ambition as something to recoil from. It may actually be the writers who shrunk from admitting they possess ambition that made me want to double down on owning mine.

  • BasmaAmin
    2019-05-20 07:13

    This book discuses the meaning of ambition to each of the women who participated in this collection. They question whether they're ambitious and how ambition is viewed in regards to gender, race, and age. It discuses what makes you ambitious and whether ambition is a key ingredient to making you seem more interesting or more successful. Each women in this collection had a different story to share about their experiences with ambition, about their jobs and their lives. I started this book not knowing a lot about it. I thought it might be one of those self-help books that are very motivational telling you what to do to be ambitious or how to be more ambitious if you already are. But it turned out different than expected. Reading each of the stories shared and their struggle with being who they are and reaching to where they are in life was interesting, and it was motivational especially with the current state that I was in but it didn't come off as trying too hard or shoving it in your face like a lot of the motivational books I've read previously.Most of the essays shared were of women who knew from a very young age that they are ambitious women who are ready to conquer the world (their dreams), and as someone who isn't very ambitious or tries to hide/brush off her ambitions as silly, I was waiting for an essay about someone who was in or started in a similar situation, and I'm glad there was a couple about that. I don't think everyone is born with that trait nor that everyone becomes ambitious at an early age. Being ambitious and having goals is very heavily stressed upon from the moment you become aware of the world, and it's incredibly annoying. People seem to always wait for you to say what the next big step you're taking in your life or your career, how you should always want more whether in terms of position or money, how you should try to be the leader or reach to the top and how being an introvert is not the "right" way to be when it comes to all of that. And all of the aforementioned is an admirable trait if you're striving for that, however when it becomes the main thing people are concerned about, when it becomes the main topic that is being discussed and when people are trying to shove it in your face every time it becomes irritating and very limiting. Being interesting or leading an interesting life -to me- is not based on those. Nor on how much money you make, or what position you're in, or how famous/well connected you are. Ambition comes in very different forms and not everything has to be career driven. Or maybe I am biased because I don't seem to have all the traditional career ambitions that everyone has? I don't know.But something that I found very weird in these essay collections, that most of the women seem to have read the book "Lean In" and most of them quoted the book or mentioned something related to the book. It's as if it was mandatory to read that book before submitting an essay, and I am unsure whether that was the case or not but... yeah. This is just an observation.

  • Jane
    2019-05-17 01:10

    A recent Scientific America article on the "gender gap" in the highest-level geniuses surmised that because of the all-out focus required to become an Einstein or Paganini, many women make trade-offs between elite accomplishment and parenting. The years during which they "balance" these callings means they often achieve less than they might otherwise. No matter what advances women make, this basic dilemma will remain.In this collection of essays from women highly successful in many, many fields, are many insights and words of wisdom from women who have come to terms with balancing "ambition" and how others view them and what it takes to get ahead and their other goals in life. I would suggest it for--Young women wondering how to plan for work and personal life--Women in the midst of negotiating career and family and wondering if they're doing it "right"--Women who are sure they're doing it right--Women who are sure they're doing it wrong--Women who think there shouldn't be conflicts between work and family--Men, whatever their beliefs about women who work, don't work, become mothers, aim for the corner office, can beat them at dogsled racing...No, this isn't research. It's personal. And perhaps the takeaway is understanding why you are making the choices you are making so that you can be contented with the life they produce.Thanks, Netgalley, for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  • Rachel
    2019-06-16 02:44

    *I won an ARC of this book from Goodreads*Overall, I was very pleased with and moved by this timely collection of essays about female ambition. The vast majority of the contributors speak to their own experiences with ambition and how they define it. The essays are written by women from such an amazing variety of fields, ages, and cultures, and capture a beautiful tapestry of female experience. I also read this while pregnant, and it gave me a lot to think about in terms of raising my own children and how I want to talk to them about ambition, and how I hope the world will change for the better as they figure out ambition for themselves. I wholeheartedly recommend this book and hope it will inspire and move others the way it did me.

  • Heather
    2019-06-08 08:05

    So much goodness here with a cast of writers who include: playwright Sarah Ruhl, journalist Roxane Gay, author Francine Prose, and so many others with wonderful essays although perhaps not as much name recognition. I loved: "Snarling Girl" "Impractical Urges" and "Letters to my Mother."I might need to read it again; I kind of want to marinate in parts of it. It's so refreshing to be in the company of women thinking deeply, even if only through the pages of the book. "Whatever impresses you illuminates your ambition.""Is a woman who refuses to admit her own ambition nothing more than the woman who historically could not admit her own desire.""maybe it's not enough to tell our daughters to be ambitious. We need to redefine ambition to include love. Love for the world, love for work, love for our sisters, love for others. Then ambition can become mission."

  • Jill
    2019-06-08 08:12

    Overall, found this collection of essays disappointing. Nearly every author complains about the word 'ambition' and having to write an essay about it. What gives? Also, most of the essays are meandering and weirdly apologetic. More questions than answers.Essay about dogsled racing was my favorite."Women are expected to get ahead by some mysterious combination of femininity and intelligence while simultaneously getting things done and disguising drive."

  • Laura
    2019-05-21 01:49

    I received an advanced-reading copy of this book. These are lovely essays. Sometimes I could only read one at a time; sometimes it's hard to read about how hard it is to be a woman and a mother and a person at the same time. The best essay of the bunch, according to me, is Elisa Albert's; I hadn't read her before, but every other sentence had me shouting, "Yes! I know you! You speak the truth! You speak MY truth!" Others left me less excited, but will likely excite other readers. The joy of this collection is that each reader can find her own sentences and essays that feel true and useful and beautiful.

  • Genevieve Brassard
    2019-05-24 06:55

    Didn't read all the essays but the ones I read were aces, especially Romm, Albert, Watkins, Rebeck, Prose, and Ruhl.

  • Andréa
    2019-05-18 00:09

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss; I received an ARC from the publisher at ALA Midwinter 2017.

  • Justine Feron
    2019-05-26 00:13

    Double Bind is an essay collection about female ambition, edited by Robin Romm with contributions from two dozen women ranging from Roxane Gay to Molly Ringwald. I hoped it would serve as a shot of ‘go out and conquer the world’ adrenaline – that I’d be inspired by accounts of thriving in male-dominated industries, discussions about what it means to “have it all,” and stories about knowing yourself. But while I did get inspiration from Double Bind, I also got a big dose of depressive introspection. This book is both an incredible body of work and an incredible body blow: the former because it humanizes women of astounding talent and tenacity, the latter because it highlights how many female success stories are shot through with angst, injustice, and sacrifice.While the essays in this collection vary wildly, several themes course through them all: the ways women are discouraged from openly declaring their drive and desires, the Lean-In-ification of female striving, and the eternal competition between the professional and personal. Like many of this book's contributors, I feel a tug-of-war between my work and home selves. In my case, it’s between the contemplative introversion I was born with and the sharp-tongued extroversion I’ve learned to perform at the office. And, surprise surprise, this fracture apparently worsens when you have kids. In “No Happy Harmony,” Elizabeth Corey argues that the pursuit of excellence and the delivery of care are two fundamentally different activities, and that it can be hard, maybe impossible, to truly do both simultaneously.Above all else, the predominant theme of Double Bind is the reluctance – even among accomplished, feminist women – to identify as ambitious. Just about every contributor had something to say about the word and its connotations:“It was only a word, but I kept dancing around it. If someone had asked, I might have said I was tenacious, or that I worked hard, or that I was diligent, or determined, but I never would have said I was ambitious. I had wanted things out of life, but simple desire doesn’t necessarily mean a person is ambitious. Ambition, it seemed, was something that other people possessed – men, mostly, or Hillary Clinton – but it wasn’t something that felt quite like me. But why not?”— CRISTINA HENRIQUEZ“I have always been terrified of the word ambition. I find it distasteful, menacing, as though it was always pursued by its invisible compound partner “blind” – blind ambition. If someone asks me “Do you like him or her?” and I answer, “He or she is – ‘ambitious.’” I am making a polite backhanded insult.”— SARAH RUHL“The word ambition is built to cover some pretty wide territory, from insidious social climbing to nose-to-the-grindstone dedication to flights of artistic, or even capitalistic, vision.”— PAM HOUSTONAnd, beyond being difficult, ambition is highly personal. In my favorite essay of the entire collection, “The Snarling Girl,” Elisa Albert writes:“Trying to generalize about ambition is like comparing apples and oranges and bananas and flowers and weeds and dirt. Wanting to be first in your class is and is not like wanting a Ferrari is and is not like being the first in your family to go to college is and is not like wanting to get into Harvard/Iowa/Yaddo is and is not like wanting to summer on Martha’s Vineyard is and is not like wanting to run elbows with fancy folk is and is not like wanting to shatter a glass ceiling is and is not like wanting to write a lasting work of genius with which no one can quibble. Our contexts are not the same, our struggles are not the same, and so our rebellions and complacencies and conformities and compromises cannot be compared. But the fact remains: Whatever impresses you illuminates your ambition.”Just as Little Fires Everywhere awakened me to the richness behind every suburban door, Double Bind has left me more attuned to the inner lives of women all around me. This collection made tangible what I suppose I’ve always known to be true – that every woman is clamoring, compromising, and charging forward in her own way (cue the mawkish metaphors about onion layers and Walt Whitman quotes about containing multitudes!). In terms of tenor, this book was more Joni Mitchell than the pump-up jam I was seeking, but it did deepen my determination to keep pushing. As Ayana Mathis puts it:“How one’s life might turn out, even after heroic effort, is anyone’s guess. It’s like this: A door opens, perhaps just a fraction of an inch. There’s no telling if the door will open at all, or for whom, but if it does, you push push push until it is wide enough for you to squeeze through.”

  • Melliferania
    2019-05-24 04:51

    *3.5 stars *Essay anthologySome of these essays were really very good, and even the ones I disliked had something for the mind to chew on ("Snarling Girl: Notes on Ambition"- I hated the overly individualistic tone, but the idea of needing to be freed from society's collective ambition is thought-provoking.). Not surprisingly, every author had a different take on what "ambition" meant; for some it was a necessary part of being human, and for others it was a human weakness we are meant to overcome. One of the more unique takes was written by a psychologist, who talked about ambition as it relates to women's hormonal cycles ("Ambitchin'"). There are a few big names in here, as well. Several authors mention Sheryl Sandberg, and another Anne Marie Slaughter, though they themselves didn't contribute to the anthology. Roxane Gay's essay addressed ambition as a black woman, one who grew up relatively well-off, and Molly Ringwald wrote that being "aged-out" of acting meant that she was free to do anything now. No longer stuck with the sole label of "actress," she can now sing and write as she did before she became famous. She also pointedly asks the question, "How long can this business get away with denying ageism on the singular back of Meryl Streep?" (237)My favorite essays were by those less well-known, though. I particularly enjoyed Claire Vaye Watkins essay,"Escape Velocity," about returning to her home town and mentoring a young woman who was much like herself. Sorting ambitious people into "runner" and "gunner" seems an accurate way to depict those trying to dramatically change their lives. The story told by Theresa Rebeck, show runner of the TV show "Smash," was particularly impressive. She had been asked to write a show by Steven Spielberg, which then became an international hit, and then she was promptly fired without cause and replaced by a team of men. Her reputation took a hit. The show was cancelled due to poor ratings, but Rebeck is determined to write again. I wouldn't read the whole book again, but some of the essays are definitely worth rereading again. I have a feeling that had I been in a different life stage, I would have enjoyed an entirely different set of essays

  • Amy
    2019-06-14 02:48

    Some of the essays are unremarkable, but it's worth wading through those to get to the impactful ones, and there is a steady sprinkling of insightful nuggets of wisdom throughout. Wish there was more diversity in the authors - the bulk of them come from writing backgrounds, so writing and publication was a common theme. I was more drawn to the essays from unexpected sources, like the butcher and dog sledder. The essays felt like they could have been ordered with more consideration, maybe giving them all a common thread woven throughout. Still, I'm giving it four stars because books like this should exist and because this book made me take a look at my own relationship with ambition.

  • Ryan Mishap
    2019-05-31 07:14

    Ambition is one of those concepts that are applied differently to the genders in the binary system of gender identification that has reigned for so long. For men, it is a desired trait. For women, it gets them labeled bitchy or scheming. This double standard is the reason for the title but the women in this collection go way beyond those concepts in trying to understand their ambition, how they feel about it, and how it works in their lives. Really good essays from people like Roxanne Gay can contrast with less than enticing explorations--but, as I always say with anthologies, you will find something to connect with.

  • Christie
    2019-06-16 06:52

    There are some wonderful essays in this book that spoke very eloquently about ambition, and what that means to women of different backgrounds. The ones I enjoyed the most were the ones by Blair Braverman, Nadia P. Manzoor, and Ayana Mathis, although Elisa Albert's spoke to me the most. Overall, however, I found that there were a lot of essays focused either on writing (I guess it makes sense, because these were writings) or motherhood, or both, which made the book a little bit repetitive and not as relevant to many women out there (myself included). Overall, though, there's some good writing to be found here!

  • Kyra Benson
    2019-05-23 04:44

    This is one of the best books for women and careers that I have read. After reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg I was looking for another book on that same vein to read. This was this book. It covers many different topics in the realm of ambition and every one of the them resonated with me in some way. It was the book that I needed to read at the point in my life where I don't like my job and want to be a writer but wonder if I can get there through determination alone.To any woman looking for motivation or a mentor I point to this book.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-25 07:13

    I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.I loved this book. I was curious about it both because the topic intrigued me and because Esme Weijun Wang was discussing it on her instagram and made it sound even more interesting. The essays were strong, and provided a varied collection of viewpoints on the topic. Some were personal and emotional, some were academic and withdrawn, and some were all over the space between. The book just flew by, because after each essay I was anxious to start the next one to find out what it said.

  • Sarah Koppelkam
    2019-05-26 00:45

    The idea to write about "women and ambition" reminds me of the prompt Virginia Woolf had when she was tasked with discussing women and fiction, the result of which became "A Room of One's Own." And as Woolf grappled with the complexity of that, so do the authors here. I enjoyed many, I found others basic, and I skipped some. My favorites were "On Impractical Urges" by Ayana Mathis (which I had read previously on, "Girl with Knife" by Camas Davis, and "The Snarling Girl: Notes on Ambition" by Elisa Albert (obviously the angriest essay was my fave).

  • Joanna
    2019-05-17 03:00

    Book 3 in my feminist reading series, guess it's time to read a few MRA books now.What I liked about this was the real diversity in the voices: the editor had clearly made a concerted effort to avoid favouring one particular worldview when choosing the contributors. This made the book a lot more interesting, if a little less coherent.The downside is that not all the contributors are experienced writers. Some of the pieces could have used a tighter edit.

  • Kristy
    2019-05-20 04:47

    This is an excellent collection of essays that span several professional fields and personal experiences. Some of the essays made me laugh, some of them made me seethe with second-hand anger and frustration, but all of them made me think about my own experiences with ambition. It's not a perfect book but it definitely is a good place to spark a discussion. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a e-ARC in exchange for a review.

  • Faith
    2019-05-29 06:48

    I really enjoyed this collection of essays. For me, it was simultaneously inspiring, depressing, informative and thought-provoking. Each author had something unique to contribute to the conversation, and while I was "Meh" about a few essays, overall, I though Robin Romm formed a solid narrative with them. As an ambitious woman myself, I sincerely appreciated being able to feel like a fly on the wall in this roundtable discussion of a book.

  • Emily
    2019-06-12 04:07

    My heart is in this book. My mind and thoughts, even more so. I can't wait to purchase my own copy (this one was rented as an ebook from the library) and mark it up. I will be rereading it many, many times and shoving it into the hands of every woman I know. I've already (easily) convinced my boyfriend to read it. My mother is next.

  • Kathleen
    2019-05-30 07:13

    This is a fascinating, diverse group of essays centered on women and ambition. The authors come from a mix of ethnic groups, careers and experiences. The essays differ in style from personal narratives to more academic essays such as one on hormonal cycles.I enjoyed reading one essay a day in the order that suited me. I could savor each individually.

  • Alyssa Foll
    2019-06-13 00:55

    4.5 stars. An excellent collection of essays on women and ambition. It is clear that ambition is a complicated subject for each of the writers and each woman has her own definition. I appreciated the diversity of the contributors as well. Definitely recommended as a part of the larger conversation about women, work, and leadership.

  • Mēgan
    2019-06-13 00:14

    Some essays actually shy away from the word ambition like its the plague. I enjoyed the majority of entries, but this detracted heavily and only served to reinforce the very stigma the book sets out to unravel.

  • Lindsey Roath
    2019-05-19 02:10

    I loved reading about women and their personal approaches toward ambition. It was eye opening to see what a struggle it was to determine what ambition truly is and how so many ambitious women still don't feel like they are ambitious enough.

  • Claire Burlap
    2019-06-01 03:10

    Some essays were more enjoyable than others. I will say, though: for as many essays are included, I only found one or two truly tough to get through. Usually with essay collections I get bored and walk away. Fairly interesting read overall.

  • Animlgrl
    2019-05-30 05:52

    A few great essays, but halfway through I felt like I was rereading some. Women who were fired by men, women who write for a living, women who struggle with home-work balance and decisions about being a stay-at-home mom. It just became too repetitive.

  • Rebecca McKanna
    2019-05-31 02:46

    Favs:+Claire Vaye Watkins' "Escape Velocity"+Elisa Albert's "The Snarling Girl: Notes on Ambition"+Roxane Gay's "The Price of Black Ambition"

  • Caroline Good
    2019-05-28 06:54

    FabulousI would like to buy a copy of this book for every person I've ever met. This is an invigorating collection.

  • Felicia Owens
    2019-05-31 04:52

    Could not put this down, and I'm ready to read it all over again. Fantastic food for thought on so many aspects of being a woman - being a person, really, trying to navigate life.